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Simply The Best Natives-Common Bluestar

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“May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

It has been a glorious spring these past 5 days.  Weather warmed to the upper 60s, and this gardener has been ecstatic!  We started our back-breaking projects, and I’ll have more on those next week.  Now I’d like to profile a favorite native plant that should be showing up soon.  

When the spring garden blooms in later April and May, I look forward to seeing a very special native perennial shout out, ‘Look at me’ with its light blue star-shaped flowers.  Of course I am talking about my native AmsoniaAmsonia tabernaemontana.  Part of the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae), you might know it by one of its common names:  Common bluestar, Eastern bluestar, Blue dogbane, Willow amsonia, Woodland bluestar.

Common bluestar grows from 1-3 ft., with dark green, narrow leaves, from US Zone 4 to 9.  You can find this native plant through out the Eastern US from New York to Florida and throughout the south to Texas and Oklahoma.  Native habitats include wet rocky open woodlands, thickets, rocky ravines, stream banks, wet prairies and moist sandy meadows.

amandaAs I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out their Spring 2016 catalog.

 

 

 

Growing Conditions

DSCN8233Common bluestar loves sun and light shade.  The more sun it gets, the more it will flower.  This native also loves moisture, and even wet conditions, which is perfect for my back gardens which are usually very moist throughout spring.  It will tolerate some drought once established.  And who couldn’t love a plant that is long-lived, and tolerates so many soils; clay, loam, sandy or rocky soil.  

The only drawback of growing this plant in shadier conditions is that it might need staking.  It also has no disease or insect problems.  

Common bluestar spreads by reseeding, but I have yet to see any of mine spreading, and at least one is 5 years old.  It is situated near the Obedient plant so it is competing with that aggressive plant, and will likely need be moved.  Amsonia will germinate from seed quickly and flower in its second year.  If you don’t want your Amsonia to reseed, then cut it back once it is done flowering.

 

 

 

Benefits to Wildlife 

The nectar of the flowers are said to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, although I have not noticed any buzzing about my Bluestar.

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Many insects also enjoy the nectar of Common bluestar, especially long-tongued insects such as Carpenter Bees, Hummingbird moths and butterflies.  The Coral Hairstreak butterfly (Satyrium titus) is one such butterfly that enjoys plants like this from the Dogbane family.

Due to the somewhat toxic nature of this plant’s sap, insect pests, and mammals tend to stay away from this plant, making it a great rabbit and deer resistant plant.  The sap is not harmful to humans.

 

 

 

Uses

DSCN4155Common bluestar makes a wonderful display massed in native plant gardens, light shade gardens, cottage gardens, open woodland areas, meadows and in rain gardens.  I am hoping once mine grow a bit more, they will spread, and I can move some around possibly into the meadow.
 
Another plus for this plant is its wonderful golden foliage display in the fall.
 
They are also said to be a great cut flower so I will try a few in a vase this year.
 

 

 

Folklore and Tales 

DSCN4159Amsonia is named in honor of the 18th-century Virginian physician Dr. Charles Amson.  The species name is said to celebrate the 16th-century German herbalist Jakobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus. 

This wildflower is listed in The Wild Flowers of America, 1879.  Quite a long history for this plant.

Western Native Americans used their native Amsonia to treat rattlesnake bites.  I could not find uses, for my particular Amsonia, by Native Americans.

Amsonia tabernaemontana was named as one of the 75 Great Plants for American Gardens by the American Horticultural Society.  After a few years in my garden, I would have to agree.

 

 

 

 

amsonia collage

 

Do you grow Amsonia?  What is your favorite blue perennial?

 

 

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In A Vase On Monday 

 

 

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I was so tired from working on garden projects for 4 days, that by Sunday I had little strength left in my legs and back.  So I picked several yellow trumpet daffodils, cut them to various lengths, and plunked them in a springtime vase.  

 

 

 

daff vase collage

My Irish china vase, with the shamrocks beautifully painted on it, was placed outside on the corner of a back garden bed.  There are red raspberry colored blooms of Pulmonaria surrounding it.  A perfect spot.  

I hope next week to have a vase that takes a bit more thought, and uses many of the blooms we have throughout the garden now.  But you can bet I will be using daffs for weeks to come, even though many are bent, browned and frost bitten.  I want to use them before they fade, as our weather went from barely spring to late spring temps in the 70s.

 

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016 and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

 

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Next up on the blog:  

Monday brings a look at the latest happenings in the veg garden.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday. 

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